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October 1: Curriculum’s Not Working Day


TheHomeSchoolMom Blog: October 1 - Official Homeschool Curriculum's Note Working DayOctober 1. We shall declare it an annual homeschool holiday. We’ll call it Curriculum’s Not Working Day —

— because now we have reached the time of year when so many of the new homeschooling parents who bought curriculum when we said, “Don’t buy curriculum yet,” are concerned about not being able to get through the curriculum they bought anyway.

They (you?) are noticing that their (your?) curriculum doesn’t fit their (your?) (choose one or more) active / introverted / extroverted / visual-spatial / right brained / gifted / learning disabled / outdoorsy / high need / project-oriented / kinesthetic / creative / delayed / advanced / ADHD / hands-on learner.

If you (yes, you!) are one of these parents, you are frustrated, and your kids are miserable. At least, that’s according to your posts on Facebook.

But it’s ok. This has been going on for years, and it seems like many people actually have to experience the shock of Curriculum’s Not Working Day before they can really consider the following things that experienced homeschoolers said before the “school year” started:

  • The child is more important than the curriculum.
  • Children at home do not need to be measured by the methods of public school, where, by the way, many kids are also experiencing poor fit with standards and curriculum.
  • Deschooling” is a real thing, and even if your kids have never been to school before, parents need to deschool to understand more about how homeschooling differs from school.
  • You have years ahead where the pace of your child’s learning can vary, accelerating and decelerating.
  • “Grade level” may not be a very good indicator of whether a curriculum will fit your child .
  • Your child may be at different “grade levels” in different subjects.
  • Many homeschoolers delay formal academic lessons for preschool, kindergarten, or first grade, and you can do the same thing.
  • Children who seem gifted may not thrive on formal early academic lessons.
  • Teaching reading in kindergarten goes against the research about reading, where the conclusion is that play is more important in creating future academic success. Honest.
  • Your general approach to homeschooling is more important than any specific curriculum.
  • Because you put a lot of thought or money into it is NOT a reason to continue using a curriculum that is making someone cry. Especially if it is you.

I am Homeschool Mom. Watch Me Change Stuff.As some of you have discovered and written in many Facebook groups this week, you are not immune to any of this even if:

  • You are a current or former teacher.
  • You are a type A person who likes to plan ahead.
  • Your child is really advanced or otherwise awesome.

The way to celebrate Curriculum’s Not Working Day is to go for a walk with your kids. Then think about what they like to do. Then, in the coming week, do some of the stuff they like to do. In fact, do as much of the stuff they like to do as you can. Think about what you want your child to really learn from homeschooling. (To cry? To be frustrated? To feel criticized? Wait, no. . . . that can’t be it!)

Then just after Curriculum’s Not Working Day, you have five major things to do in order to regroup:

  • Read more about approaches to homeschooling (sometimes also called homeschooling styles) than about specific curricula.
  • Read everything you can about deschooling and start doing that stuff.
  • Do things that enhance your relationship with your child.
  • Keep connecting with experienced homeschoolers with many different backgrounds and ideas, to increase your chances of hearing different things, some of which might work for you.
  • Stop doing things that create frustration and negativity.

It’s your homeschooling family. You can change anything that doesn’t work for something that does work. You don’t need anyone’s permission.

I know. This is incredible power, and it’s at the heart of why homeschooling is effective. I am Homeschool Mom. Watch Me Change Stuff.

This will create engaged learning, and you’ll begin to get a better idea of how homeschooling can be shaped for your specific children. If you’re really lucky, you’ll begin to get a better idea of how you are being shaped for your specific children.

And next year, Curriculum’s Not Working Day could be less notable. But you can still take a walk with your kids to celebrate.




Jeanne Faulconer

A popular speaker at homeschooling conferences, business groups, and parents’ groups, Jeanne Potts Faulconer homeschooled her three sons in North Carolina, Mississippi, and Virginia for twenty years. Jeanne is director of Brave Writer's Homeschool Alliance, which provides homeschool coaching, community, and "grad school for homeschool" for parents. She is the contributing editor for TheHomeSchoolMom newsletter and writes the popular Ask Jeanne column, addressing homeschool parents' questions here at TheHomeSchoolMom. She is a former college faculty member, former editor and book reviewer for Home Education Magazine, a long-time editor for VaHomeschoolers Voice, and a news correspondent for WCVE, an NPR-member station. Holding her Master of Arts degree in Communication, Jeanne has conducted portfolio evaluations for Virginia homeschoolers for evidence of progress for many years.

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  1. Danielle

    Is anyone in Indianapolis In, I could really use some encouragement?

  2. Robin

    I needed this today! It’s not so much that our curriculum’s not working…it’s that life is crazy right now. My husband has been out of town visiting his dying mom, I’ve been trying to juggle work and homeschool, it’s just been crazy. This post was a “permission granted” to regroup and focus on what’s important right now.

    Before homeschooling our own kids, my husband and I homeschooled my baby brother for 8th and 9th grade. I so agree with everything here including the importance of deschooling and that his needs were more important than jamming him through some curriculum. My mom pulled him out because he was falling further and further behind in school and we got him caught up in those two years with plenty of time for long bike rides, field trips, baking, and working on his mental health. He’s now finishing up at public school. He’s looking at colleges and has a 3.7 GPA.

  3. Caprice

    Hi..I pulled my daughter out of 6th grade the first month last year. I decided to start homeschooling. A friend who had homeschooled all her kids brought me a ton of 6th grade curriculum. I told the school I’d be homeschooling her & withdrew her. It was very difficult trying to play teacher & had no idea that what I ended up doing was deschooling her. Her & I both thought because she never really did much of the curriculum that it was a disaster & she should go back to school. So the first day of 7th grade this year I went to enroll her back in the horrid middle school that I pulled her from & they asked for transcripts. I told them she was homeschooled & they said that I should have some documentation from someone about her grades. I had NO idea about any of this. I fearfully said, ok I’ll see about getting that & that was that. We decided to homeschool but thought the only way would be a k12 program. I believe that would not work for her type of learning & was very relieved to read your article on deschooling & that public school standards are not THE standards. I’m ready to give it a go. But Im fearful of the lack of documentation for the last school year. Can I get in trouble? Idk what I need if anything. I did all the other learning things you suggested (cooking,library,etc.,thinking that I was failing as a homeschooler due to lack of steady curriculum learning. I live in Michigan. I want to continue trying to homeschool this year without any legal ramifications. What are your thoughts?
    Caprice Mancini

    • Kristene J

      Caprice, I can so relate to your post. I have been schooling at home for 8 years and I still doubt myself from time to time. We started high school this year and the National Curriculum Is Not Working article spoke right to me as I panicked over science.
      The first thing to do is check with the laws of your state and/or county regarding homeschooling. Many times schools don’t know what is and is not required of homeschoolers so be sure to speak with a person in authority such as the pupil services director of your school board. Home School Legal Defense Association is another great resource. They can give you all the ins and outs of the law.
      As far as records go, that also varies by state. In Virginia we are required to submit “proof of progress” each year. That has nothing to do with grades but shows that learning has taken place from one year to the next. That can be shown by standardized tests (California Achievement Tests, The Stanford or any other similar test) or even have a professional evaluation done and submitted.
      The biggest and most important thing I can offer you is, DONT PANIC! Enjoy the time with your daughter, take time to learn with her, laugh with her and love her. 7th grade feels big but you will not ruin her in this transition year. Cover your basics like math and English (the only two areas Virginia evaluates) and enjoy this journey.

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